FREENEY MENDING

Dwight Freeney was hindered by an ankle injury early in the game at Chicago last Sunday. Freeney's availability for Sunday is being determined, and it headlined the injury news following the opener.

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INDIANAPOLIS –In terms of quantity, the number of injuries the Colts carry with them into Week Two of the regular season is not overwhelmingly significant.

But coming out of the Chicago game, it is the quality of one of the players whose status is in his question that has Colts fans concerned.

Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney exited the Chicago game last Sunday with an ankle injury on the second possession.  Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano indicated a day later that Freeney will be observed by the medical staff as the team prepares for the sold out Sunday home opener against Minnesota.

"Dwight (Freeney) does have an ankle sprain," Pagano said on Monday.  "He's going to see a specialist, later (Monday) afternoon, to read the MRI.  So, he's still day-to-day."

With Freeney on the field on Sunday, the Colts defense pressured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for much of the first two series.

Cutler began the game one-of-10 passing but the longer the game went on without Freeney, the more difficult it was for the Colts to hurry the Bears signal-caller.

"I think, what (the Bears) do is as soon as that (injury) happens, when you don't have to tend to one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, now all your focus goes to the other guy (Robert Mathis), who ended up having two sacks and started the game with a sack," Pagano said.

When Freeney left the game, third-year outside linebacker Jerry Hughes took his spot.

Hughes said on Monday that his preparation will not change this week even with the uncertainty of Freeney's injury.

"He's a Pro Bowl player, probably even a Hall-of-Fame guy," Hughes said of Freeney.  "It's definitely big shoes to fill."

One advantage the Colts have at the outside linebacker position is the extended playing time Freeney and Mathis' backups saw during the preseason.

Hughes and Mario Addison both saw extra action in each of the four preseason games, and Pagano wants to see more production out of them if Freeney is not able to play this weekend.

"The Jerry Hughes' and the (Mario) Addison's and the (Justin) Hickman's of the world, those guys have got to step up in case he is out, or he's out for an extended period of time," Pagano said.

On Sunday against the Bears, the Colts struggled to get any sort of pass rush after the first couple of series, and Cutler made the Indianapolis defense pay.

Cutler finished the game hitting 20 of his final 25 passes and helping the Chicago offense produce 34 points following the opening quarter.  Additionally, the Bears were able to bite off gains exceeding 20 yards nine times.

It is no secret the Colts' 3-4 hybrid defense is a different unit when Freeney is on the field.  Pagano hopes that what he has heard about Freeney's ability to get better quickly is true.

"I hear Dwight is a fast healer," Pagano said.  "He's got all kinds of medical people that he surrounds himself with and between hyperbaric chambers and all those kind of things, I anticipate getting him back sooner, rather than later."

Mathis is a dead-pan specialist verbally, along with being a hard-hitting presence on the field.  He has partnered with Freeney often to create mayhem. 

"He's a game-changer, no denying that," said Mathis on Monday to a reporter.  "When he's out there, we're rocking.  When he's not, there's a big void to fill.  But you've got to fill in some way.  It's got to be next man up."

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